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Tsaghkadzor (Gorge of Flowers) with population of 1800 people is Armenia's principal ski resort and the number of guesthouses reflects this. It is also an excellent centre for walking and the scope for doing so is extended by using the chair lift, which operates all year. In summer thousands of anemones, Pulsatilla armena, can be seen in grassland a short distance above the chair-lift terminus.

Back when Armenia was part of the USSR Soviet athletes used to come to this tiny village to train for the winter Olympics and other sport competitions. The ski resort is located on the eastern slopes of Mount Tegenis. The main season is December to the end of February and the snow can be up to 1 m deep. Instruction is available and equipment can be hired from a number of hotels in the town, as can snowboards and sledges. In winter a skating rink is open in the town's main square. The chair lift (summer 09.45-17.45, shorter hours in winter), opened in 1967 and rebuilt in 2004 by an Italian company, operates in three sections from the base of the ski slopes to the top at 1,966m. Two other chair lifts operate at different points on the slopes. The Tsaghkadzor Sport Base, built to train Soviet athletes for the 1968 Mexico Summer Olympics is now a hotel offering its athletic facilities to a wider clientele.

This little resort, 57km north of Yerevan, is a virtual ghost town in summer, which is great if you are looking for cut rates on hotels or some crowd-free nature spots. The main road reaches a central square and veers left up to the House of Writers, or right and around to the active Kecharis Monastery. The road straight on from the monastery leads to the cable-car station, while another branches to the left up to the Sport Base. The 6km cable car up Mt Tsaghkuniats runs daily even in summer. The skiing facilities at the ski resort are basic and a far cry from the Alps but good fun for a day on the slopes.

A single cable-car ride costs, and you can hire basic ski equipment, much of it vintage gear from the cable-car station. Better equipment is available from the Hotel Kecharis. The forests around the base of the mountain provide some nice walks, and in summer there’s horse riding from the Tsaghkadzor Sport Base. Horse riding can be organized directly through Seran Mirzoya, reached through the Hotel Kecharis. The Kecharis Monastery is a finely carved 11th- to 13th-century complex with khatchkars, a katoghike (cathedral), a Surp Grigor Church and a smaller Surp Nishan chapel. It’s now the seat of the bishop of Kotayk marz and is open daily.

Getting There & Away - Tsaghkadzor is only about 40 minutes’ drive northeast of Yerevan. There are no direct buses or marshrutkas, but a taxi. There are frequent buses and marshrutkas between Yerevan and Hrazdan, 6km down the valley – a taxi up to Tsaghkadzor from here will cost around AMD800. There are only a few taxis in Tsaghkadzor.

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